Marc is just so wonderful! About a week ago, he asked me who I would truly love to interview and I thought of Vivien Leigh! She has always been my favorite actress for as long as I can remember. I don’t know where I saw her first, but I’m guessing it was Gone with the Wind. For about a week, Marc has been coming back to me with “Not yet” so I was losing hope. Then tonight, Marc took me to a majestic Tudor house he called Thorn Hall.
Diane: Are we visiting someone here? (I didn’t know what he had planned.)
Marc: Yes, your favorite actress.
Diane: You didn’t!! I thought she wouldn’t talk with us?
Marc: It took some coaxing on my part, but I persevered!
We walked into the entry way and to the right was a grand sitting room. Although the house was old, the decor was circa 1940s with floral upholstered chairs and a red velvet couch. The atmosphere was made cheery by a roaring fire and light from large bay windows. Across the room from us, a door opened and Miss Leigh walked out in an impeccable white two piece form-fitting dress. I don’t often get star stuck, but I was now.
Diane: Marc I’m too overwhelmed to say anything. You have to start talking please…..
Marc: Miss Leigh…Diane has always considered you her favorite actress. What was it Diane…since you were five?
Vivien: That is a great compliment.
Marc: We were hoping to visit with you for a short time and possibly ask you a few questions?
Vivien: I don’t see why that would pose a problem. Please continue.
Marc: We realize that initially, you were not very interested in doing an afterlife interview….
Vivien: Well Vivien was a very private person and I only did interviews usually out of necessity – as it was part of my profession. I had to keep many secrets and the press, even then, were notorious for sniffing out the skeletons in one’s closet. Of course now, on earth, actresses do not have any privacy.
Marc: Can you tell us why you decided to come forward and speak with us?
Vivien: I’ve quite moved beyond Vivien onto another persona, but I felt it would be novel to go back and visit her again.
Marc: Are you incarnate then on the earth?
Vivien: Oh no…not earth…it will be awhile – if ever, before I return there. Maybe again…I’m not sure.
Marc: Can you tell us why you became an actress in that life? It wasn’t really a respected profession back then was it?
Vivien: No. Women didn’t have any kind of respectable career back then….maybe a nurse or nun. I was brought up Catholic and toyed with the idea of being a nun at a very young age, but soon realized that I wanted more adventure in my life.
Diane: I believe you decided to be an actress at a very young age?
Vivien: Yes. I knew there was no other calling that would make me truly happy and inspired.
Marc: What was it like being a world renown actress during that time? You received two Academy Awards (for Gone with the Wind and A Streetcar Named Desire).
Vivien: It was a difficult profession. I can’t imagine anything harder. It really took a toll on me physically and mentally. As for the fame, I wasn’t interested in that. It helped, after winning the Academy Award for Gone with the Wind, as I could get the plays that I wanted to do with Larry produced. So that certainly opened up doors for me.
Marc: Did you have a favorite role that you played?
Vivien: I liked playing Blanche in A Streetcar Named Desire. I think that was my most challenging role, I would say. Tennessee wrote a complex character – tragic and destined to fail. It made me reach for depths in my acting that I had not tackled before. Some said that I was never the same after that role, and they were right.
Diane: It was a stupendous performance!
Vivien: Thank you.
Marc: Anything else about being an actress that you would like to share?
Vivien: Because I had the fame from Gone with the Wind, I was luckier than most actresses. I had more flexibility in choosing the parts I wanted to play. I had high standards that were often hard to maintain.
Diane: Was it extremely difficult for a woman to have a career then?
Vivien: Yes…very much so. The only truly respectable role for women back then was being a mother. Of course after the war (WWII), that had to change. Women were not going to be confined to the home anymore. I never saw myself as a homemaker. I had this fire inside of me to explore and that took the form of acting. No one was going to stop me. I was very driven.
Diane: Thankfully for us you were! There is a marvelous scene in Waterloo Bridge where you are dancing with your beau (during WWI) and the restaurant is lit only with candles. Each member in the band stops playing and puts out a candle till there is only one left. Such a romantic scene! What was it like making that movie?
Vivien: Well my costar Robert Taylor was a dear. I quite enjoy that movie as well.
Marc: Did you have any spiritual beliefs?
Vivien: Yes, as I said, I was raised Catholic, but I did question the church’s tenets. For instance, they were against divorce, and I was a divorced woman.
Marc: But no beliefs outside of organized religion?
Vivien: No not really. Being British, you see or hear the odd ghost in the old houses, but that was par for the course. I was a very strong-willed, upper crust British woman and you didn’t really admit to anything like that. I had my career on my mind most of the time….other than my marriages and romances of course.
Marc: How was your transition over?
Vivien: It was a relief in a way. I had been dealing with mental illness and my health was not sound. I had a bit of a rest when I passed back over….a much needed rest in fact. Physically I had been exhausted. I was never strong that way. Mentally I was very intelligent, with a photographic memory, obviously very well read and educated. I think the pressure did get to be too much. I had too many balls in the air – a constant juggling act. I wanted a successful career and pairing that with a marriage that was although extremely passionate at first (with Laurence Olivier), the circumstances were often difficult. It took a toll.
Marc: You are rested now though. Can we ask what you have been doing? You mentioned that you had another persona since Vivien?
Vivien: Yes. I toyed with the idea of going straight back into another earth incarnation and although that is very exciting, I was ready for a change. My current life is teaching acting to children on a planet quite similar to earth.
Marc: So you are still acting?
Vivien: Yes but teaching to others. It is a wonderful feeling to give of yourself so fully. I did the same, of course, as Vivien – giving myself to my audience – but it was always under the guise of a character.
Diane: I believe you had many famous friends in the theatre world. Anyone you are still in contact with?
Vivien: Yes, Noel Coward. We had our ups and downs in that life but now we are amused by all the drama! (She also mentioned Alec Guinness). A few of the great actors I worked with will come visit and help me with my students.
Marc: What was it like transforming yourself every night in the theatre? I did a bit of that playing the rock star – and I did feel at times that another character took over.
Vivien: Well as I mentioned earlier, it was a difficult profession, but it was so rewarding for me. I struggled with my identity….trying to keep up with Larry. In hind sight, I probably would have been more content with different plays (other than Shakespeare). But when the partner you adore is so immersed in that world, of course it is only natural to want to share that with them. I would have liked to have done more comedy, as I found that very challenging, but those kind of roles didn’t really come my way.
Marc: Okay Miss Leigh…is there anything else that you would like to share with our readers?
Vivien: I’m not really used to connecting with the earth. I think that is lovely that people there still know of my work. I hope that they enjoy watching my performances. I gave everything – and more – to my profession. I had to make many sacrifices personally in order to accomplish what I did. Many of my decisions were not looked on favorably at the time, but I did what I thought best. I guess I would like to say that living on earth is not always easy, but it offers great opportunity to explore endless possibilities to get to know yourself and to interact with others. Your decisions may not always be understood, but bear in mind the road that you are on is your own. You must make decisions about your life which will enrich you and give you the opportunities to fulfill your dreams. I was extremely motivated and knew that I could accomplish whatever I had my heart set on. The result was not always a happy one, but I always tried. I never let a chance go by for a new experience.
Marc: Inspirational advice Miss Leigh. Thank you.
Diane: Thank you Miss Leigh! It was such an honor to meet you! I will never forget it.
Vivien: It was my pleasure.
She turned around and walked back through the door. I got the impression that as soon as the door closed, she shed her Vivien persona and got right back into her current character. Forever the great actress!
© Bolan-Beaty Boogie
May 11, 2017